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Master of Arts in Liberal Studies


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Who Should Seek A MALS Degree?

The best way to answer this question is to give the various profiles for past and existing students in the program.

High School and Middle School Teachers: The MALS degree is a suitable masters degree for area and regional teachers and is, for professional purposes, comparable to the Master of Secondary Education (MSE) and Master of Elementary Education (MEE). The kinds of teachers who have received the MALS degree and those currently in the program prefer the program’s focus on continuing their overall education with a greater stress on subject matter, and less stress on method and pedagogy. The MALS, however, works closely with the MSE at USI, since the MALS allows students as part of their electives to take courses in the MSE program that they think are appropriate and MSE students often take courses in the MALS.

Employed in the For Profit sector of the economy: The MALS is not a good degree to seek if the goal is to seek training for a particular job in the workforce. There are better-suited masters degrees at USI that are more appropriate for those seeking employment in a particular profession or in the business community. What it is ideally suited for are individuals who are gainfully employed in any sector of the economy for whom the skills of the MALS complement the skills required by their employee.

Employed in the Not For Profit Sector: A number of MALS graduates and current students are employed in community college systems where a master’s degree is a suitable terminal degree. A variety of not-for-profit organizations seek the broad based skills and knowledge of the MALS as well.

Recent University Graduates: The MALS has the potential to be a step toward graduate work at the doctoral level. Interdisciplinarity is a key concern of doctoral programs, and a number of programs across the country testify to this need. Programs in American Studies, Gender and Race Studies, programs in the Humanities and in a couple of instance doctoral programs in Liberal Arts are an appropriate next step for a MALS graduate. Furthermore, the MALS, because of its flexible elective component, can be used to create credentials similar to (as well as augmented by interdisciplinarity) traditional academic graduate programs, for instance, in English, History, and Communication.

Original Design students: The oldest MALS program is close to 50 years old and in the early years these programs were designed for anyone interested in living wiser by virtue of attaining the goals of a good liberal arts and sciences degree—to be free of this time and place and to be able to take one’s place as a citizen in a community of ideas. One might even call this an education in being a “public intellectual.” The promise of democracy is only as good as the Jeffersonian ideal of meritocracy replacing aristocracy. A core of committed, well-educated and well-rounded individuals is at the heart of what is still the great experiment in self-rule, democracy. This last category is not only a separate category, but it is also an important “bonus” if you will of the previously mentioned profiles.